Album Review: Childish Gambino - 'Camp'
US comedian Donald Glover has seriously good rhymes
Um, wrong. For starters, Glover is no dilettante: ‘Camp’ is his fourth full-lengther under his nom de rap (taken from a Wu Tang Clan name generator), and the best to date. For another thing, while he’s a gifted comedian, his focus is never really on being funny – just witty, heartfelt, honest and occasionally uproarious.
He’s been variously tagged as backpack and nerdcore, and you can kind of understand why: on ‘LES’, Glover skewers his own hipsterhood by describing a bathroom clinch with a girl who’s “Got ironic tattoos on her back/That ain’t ironic bitch, I love Rugrats”, before decreeing on ‘Hold You Down’ that “you’re not not-racist ’cos The Wire’s in your Netflix queue”. Pop-cultural references like that abound – his indie namechecks range from Mumford and Sons to Radiohead to Sufjan Stevens – but there’s also an emotional heart to songs like ‘Outside’ and the epic, seven-minute (and largely spoken-word) ‘That Power’ that can’t be expressed in air-quotes.
“Why does every black actor gotta rap some?” Glover wonders on ‘Bonfire’, before concluding, “I don’t know, all I know is I’m the best one”. And that’s true, even if it’s not much of a claim. I’m about to make a bigger one on his behalf, though: fuck Tyler’s empty posturing, this is the hip-hop album of the year.
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